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of FATMI Mounir

FRANCE, 2004, 00:06:38

Production : FATMI Mounir
Genre : Video art
Keyword : Allegory, Performance, Society

Summary :
Commerciale, taking the form of a still sequence shot, could at first sight be mistaken for video surveillance footage of the entrance to a shopping centre. People walk in and out, pushing the glass panels of the revolving door of one of these temples of consumption that invade every suburban area worldwide. Alone, in couples, wandering past or rushing in, trolleys empty or full, mothers and children, hundreds of people push this revolving door day in, day out in an unrelenting and dizzying ballet. The effects of superimposition and transparency applied to the video heighten this sensation of a ghostly, indifferent and endless flow.

On this particular day, some people notice the small black cube with a white stripe around it, placed at the centre of the door, which turns each time someone pushes it.
This small cube is a Kaaba. Reduced to its simplest, minimalist expression, it has lost the splendour of the black
brocade sewn with golden verses, and to some extent the desecrated cube could always have been a part of this ordinary setting.

Every day, for more than thirteen centuries, millions of people have turned in the direction of this sacred object and thousands of them cross the world to walk seven times around the black cube that, relieved of its former idols, expresses the unique and invisible divine presence.
By placing the cube at the centre of the revolving door, mounir fatmi radically changes its symbolic meaning. Deprived of its spiritual substance, anonymous, revolving, the cube no longer guides or leads anyone or anything. Attention and prayer are no longer focused on the cube but on something else, on the shelves and the products on display in the supermarket, on the trolleys that will be filled with earthly food. The shopping centre has become the new pilgrimage, and consumption a true idol.

This acknowledgement, if today a truism, is not new, however, and the presence of this Kaaba is a means for mounir fatmi to highlight the consistent historical ties between trade and religion. In pre-Islamic times, Mecca was the centre of Eastern trade. By attracting all the Arabic tribes, the polytheistic Kaaba developed trade and made Mecca the heart of a flourishing economy.
Today, over four million Muslims make the pilgrimage annually, involving a sometimes parallel economy based on religion, with substantial profits. This Kaaba in a shopping centre then might as well be the way to advertise a trip that, however spiritual, nonetheless demands that we sell,
spend and consume even more.

Commerciale was presented as part of the 2004 exhibition « Comprendra bien qui comprendra le
dernier » at Le Parvis Modern Arts Centre in Ibos.

Marie Deparis, Paris 2007

Translation: Julien Castel, Suzan Leclerq.
Editing: Caroline Rossiter.

puce to print

Original format : video
Aspect ratio : 4/3
Chroma : Couleur
Available version(s) : Sans paroles

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